Dr Lori Lach, Senior Lecturer at JCU, said the study compared the feeding habits of healthy bees to those infected with the gut parasite Nosema ceranae.
In the study, published recently in the journal Microbial Ecology, the researchers first gave groups of bees different kinds of pollen. They found that sick bees, and not healthy bees, lived longer when they had access to the pollen that was more nutritious, even though it also increased the number of parasites found in their gut.
“The real question then was - when the bees had the opportunity to select their own food, would they choose what was good for them?” said Jade Ferguson, the student who conducted the project for her Honours degree.
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